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On Wednesday, December 9, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their employment projections for the ten years from 2008 to 2018. These projections come out every two years, and I’m always interested to see how the BLS economists have changed their projections. Some occupations that looked very promising two years ago look less promising now; conversely, some occupations now have a much rosier outlook.

Here are some winners and losers, based on the tables they released. First, note that in my sorting procedures I removed all occupations requiring less than an associate degree, on the assumption that readers of this blog would be less interested in careers that require little formal education. Secondly, I removed all occupations with a 2008 workforce of fewer than 50,000 workers.

Of the remaining occupations, the following ten had the greatest positive difference in their projected growth between the 2006 estimates and the 2008 estimates. That is, their expected growth has improved the most, from a high of 40.3% change to a low of 28.1%. The percentage figures below indicate the presently projected growth for 2008-18.

  • Medical scientists, except epidemiologists 40.3%
  • Vocational education teachers, secondary school 9.6%
  • Credit analysts 15.0%
  • Physician assistants 39.0%
  • Operations research analysts 22.0%
  • Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents 13.0%
  • Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists 27.9%
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 19.3%
  • Budget analysts 15.1%
  • Market research analysts 28.1%

It’s  hard to find a common thread here, but I think it’s easier to do so in the following list, which shows the ten occupations with the greatest negative difference in their projected growth. That is, expectations for their growth have been downgraded more than any other occupations, from a high of 15.5% change to a low of 8.0%. As before, the percentage figures below indicate the presently projected growth for 2008-18.

  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents 9.3%
  • Financial analysts 19.8%
  • Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors 21.0%
  • Appraisers and assessors of real estate 4.6%
  • Education administrators, postsecondary 2.2%
  • Education administrators, preschool and child care center/program 11.8%
  • Multi-media artists and animators 14.1%
  • Social and community service managers 13.8%
  • Personal financial advisors 30.1%
  • Computer software engineers, applications 34.0%

For these occupations, I think the chief common theme is automation, with offshoring a secondary theme. The BLS economists probably realized two years ago that many of these workers’ tasks could be done by Web applications or, in a few cases, by offshore workers, but I suppose the economists have had to revised their estimates of how rapidly automation and offshoring are catching on.

You may want to think about the possible effects of these trends on your own career, or on a career you’re considering. These forces may erode opportunities in your field faster than you now expect.